State Participation with PHMSA
PHMSA is reaching out to state entities who have the safety authority over the downhole portion (wells/reservoir/salt cavern) of intrastate natural gas underground storage facilities to participate in our underground storage safety program. To participate, state law must provide the state entity with the authority to establish and enforce regulations over the downhole portion of intrastate storage facilities. Participating state entities, through annual Certification/Agreements with PHMSA, will inspect and enforce the federal underground storage regulations for intrastate underground natural gas storage facilities located within the state. PHMSA will support participating state entities with grant funding paying a portion of their inspection and enforcement program costs based on the available federal funding for the program. Interested States must complete Grant Applications with Certification/Agreement documents by September 30th for the following year UNGS safety program.
The list of the PHMSA State Partners for Underground Natural Gas Storage for CY2021 is available here. If you are a state entity and want to learn more about participating with PHMSA in the underground natural gas storage safety program or express interest in participation please email Zach Barrett, Director of State Programs, at email@example.com and provide your contact information and any questions about the program.
A 60105 Certification allows a state entity with safety authority over intrastate underground natural gas storage to inspect and enforce the federal underground storage regulations in addition to any state regulations that are more stringent than the federal regulations for those intrastate natural gas storage facilities within the state. To obtain a 60105 Certification a state entity must annually Certify to PHMSA it:
- State entity has regulatory jurisdiction over the standards and practices for underground storage facilities - this means the State Law gives the State Entity safety authority for the downhole underground storage facilities.
- State entity has adopted, by the date of certification, the minimum federal regulations regarding underground storage or, if the regulations are published not later than 120 days before certification, is taking steps to adopt those regulations - this means if the federal regulations are published before June 2, 2017, the State must have adopted them into State Law by September 30, 2017. State Entities would need to adopt the federal regulations applicable to natural gas underground storage (192.3, 192.7, 192.12, and Part 199.)
- State entity will inspect and enforce the minimum federal regulations for underground storage that include inspections conducted by State employees meeting the qualifications established by PHMSA - PHMSA will develop training and qualifications over time and will provide a state amble time to accomplish them for inspectors to maintain certification.
- State entity is encouraging and promoting the establishment of a program designed to prevent damage by demolition, excavation, tunneling, or construction activity to the underground storage pipeline facilities that subjects persons who violate the applicable requirements of that program to civil penalties and other enforcement actions that are substantially the same as are provided under this chapter, and addresses the elements in section 60134(b) - the state entity would need to encourage and support a state excavation damage prevention program by posting “call before you dig” information on websites, attending contractor meetings, supporting excavation damage prevention legislation as examples of encouraging and promoting.
- State entity may require record maintenance, reporting, and inspection substantially the same as provided under section 60117 of this title - this means the state entity can require an operator to provide records, provide reports, and have authority to conduct inspections and investigations as necessary.
- State entity may require that plans for inspection and maintenance under section 60108 (a) and (b) of this title be filed for approval – this means the state entity must be able to require the operator to submit operation and maintenance plans and require the amendment of the plans as necessary.
- State entity may enforce safety standards of the authority under a law of the State by injunctive relief and civil penalties substantially the same as provided under sections 60120 and 60122(a)(1) and (b) (f) of this title - this means the state must have the ability to issues civil penalties and order injunctive relief as necessary.
A 60106 Agreement allows a state entity to conduct inspections of intrastate underground natural gas storage facilities for compliance with the federal underground storage regulations; however, identified potential violations must be forwarded to PHMSA to take enforcement action. A state may inspect and enforce any state regulations which are more stringent than the federal regulations. This Agreement allows a state entity to participate in the PHMSA safety program while they are working to obtain the appropriate safety authorities and adopt our applicable federal regulations to underground storage facilities. States with a 60106 Agreement may participate in PHMSA’s grant for underground storage. To enter into an Agreement with PHMSA for the inspection of intrastate underground storage facilities a state entity must:
- establish an adequate program for record maintenance, reporting, and inspection designed to assist compliance with applicable safety standards prescribed under this chapter; and
- prescribe procedures for approval of plans of inspection and maintenance substantially the same as required under section 60108 (a) and (b) of this title.
PHMSA Underground Natural Gas Storage Grant
State entities participating in the PHMSA Underground Natural Gas Storage Safety Program are eligible to receive federal grant funding to support their participation in the program. The grant may fund up to 80 percent of the total cost of the personnel, equipment, and activities reasonably required for conducting the underground natural gas storage safety program. The grant funding is dependent on the amount of federal funding appropriated for the grant. The grant is a reimbursement grant – state entities expend funds during a calendar year and are reimbursed based on actual program costs at mid-year and end of the calendar year based on their performance. PHMSA receives a grant application with the estimated program costs for the coming calendar year from state entities in September of the prior year with the program Certification or Agreement documents. Based on these estimated program costs PHMSA calculates the maximum funding a state entity could receive from the grant and communicates this amount to the state entity in a Payment Agreement. PHMSA conducts triannual grant reviews to assure the federal grant funding was expended appropriately by the state entity.